Associated Press
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprise their "X-Files" roles of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in "I Want to Believe."
THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE — ** — David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Billy Connolly; rated PG-13 (violence, gore, drugs, profanity, vulgarity)

It's hard to believe that it took the creators of the beloved "X-Files" television series more than five years to come up with "I Want to Believe."

If anything, this surprisingly lame and dull movie spin-off makes you look more kindly on its cinematic predecessor, the overlong 1998 UFO thriller "The X-Files: Fight the Future."

There's really nothing here that will attract casual viewers to the movie. And even die-hard X-Philes are in for a huge disappointment.

However, they will probably be content with seeing David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprise their roles as FBI agents and unexplained phenomena investigators Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, respectively.

The two haven't been partners for years — at least professionally. She's been busy practicing medicine at a religious hospital, while he's become a semi-reclusive shut-in.

But Mulder and Scully have reunited in typical, bickering fashion. They've been asked to help investigate a series of bizarre kidnappings.

The one lead the FBI has is Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly), or "Father Joe." He's a disgraced Catholic priest and convicted pedophile who appears to have psychic abilities and who may be able to find the kidnap victims.

As you'd expect, the open-minded Mulder is at least interested in hearing his claims. The more skeptical and scientific Scully isn't buying into them whatsoever.

The bits of character drama that deal with Mulder and Scully's relationship do work fairly well. Duchovny and Anderson do wear these familiar roles comfortably.

Given how weak the actual X-Files portion of the plot is, though, you can perhaps understand why the studio and producers tried to keep it such a secret. There's virtually no real suspense or tension, and things end with a thud.

"The X-Files: I Want to Believe" is rated PG-13 for strong, sometimes disturbing violent images (including decapitations, vehicular violence, animal attacks and violence against women), gory and bloody imagery, drug content and references (hypodermic needles and use of tranquilizers), scattered strong profanity, and some other suggestive language (references and innuendo). Running time: 104 minutes.

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